Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Happy Christmas everyone!
Our day was spent in the company of lovely friends, Carter's homemade Christmas crackers, brand new Mighty Boosh DVDS and Pictionary.
I made my usual sweet potato and leek Christmas roulade (except this year I made one with prune stuffing and the other with feta), chestnut and cranberry stuffing balls with red onion and Guinness gravy.
Kelly worked her magic on the vegetables - carrots and parsnips with wholegrain mustard and maple syrup, and the best roast potatoes I have ever had.
Oh, and we also had the most amazing cheeseboard known to man. Manchego, Chaumes (I hadn't had this cheese before - it is pasteurised, has a sticky soft orange rind and is an excellent start for those beginning a lifelong quest for the gooiest, stinkiest French cheese), Brie, Wensleydale, Cheddar, Gruyere, Cornish Yarg, Raclette accompanied by Italian baked figs, apple chutney, quince paste and fancy crackers. Mr Stilton was sorely missed, but he isn't so good for unborn babies, so next year I'll have to have twice as much.
KELLY'S BEST EVER ROAST POTATOES
What you need
Around 16 potatoes - Maris piper, King Edward or Desiree, peeled and cut to size
2 tablespoons plain flour
sunflower of veg oil
Preheat the oven to 190. Throw potatoes into a big saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to boil and boil for 2 minutes. Drain, keeping the potatoes in the pan. Sprinkle over the flour, put the lid back on and shake violently so the potatoes get all roughed up.
Place a large metal heavy duty roasting tray on the hob over high heat. Add a few big lugs of oil. When the oil starts to spit, add the potatoes and fry for about 5 minutes turning the potatoes with tongs to lightly brown on all sides.
Place in the preheated oven. After 20 minutes, take the potatoes out and put back onto hob, frying and turning the potatoes for 5 minutes. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes then return to the hob for another 5 minutes turning the potatoes carefully.
When done, sprinkle over some sea salt and serve.
ONION AND GUINNESS GRAVY
What you need
50 g butter
2 big red onions halved and sliced 1 cm thick
8 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped from stalk
2 sprigs of Rosemary, leaves stripped from stalk and roughly chopped
2 tsp marigold bouillon dissolved in 600ml boiling water
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
Heat butter in a saucepan. When melted, add the flour and onions. Fry for a few minutes on a medium heat until they just begin to brown. Add the Guinness and mustard and reduce to half.
Add the thyme, rosemary and stock and simmer on lowest heat for 45 minutes without the lid. If you like it a bit thicker, dissolve a teaspoon of cornflour in a little cold water and add to gravy. Bring to boil. Repeat until desired consistency is reached but don't go crazy, it will reduce more when it cools down and gets reheated again.
This tastes even better when it has been living in the fridge for a few days. Plus it'll be one thing less you have to bother with when you are enjoying your Christmas champagne.
Monday, 29 December 2008
Being pregnant has made me chocolate obsessed, so one night after work in the lead-up to Christmas I decided to make my own festive chocolate. Making your own chocolate is fun because it's all about taking something you like and remolding it into something even better. Plus, doing it yourself allows you to control what goes into it - keeping it free of excess sugar and additives
What you need
2 handfuls of brazil nuts (or any other nuts that you like, macadamias - for an Australian vibe, pistachios, peanuts)
1 1/2 blocks of Green and Black's dark cooking chocolate
1 block of Green and Black's milk chocolate with almonds, broken into pieces
1 handful of dried cranberries
Line a 15x15 tin or container with non-stick baking paper. Put the nuts into a plastic bag and bash a few times with a rolling pin to break them up, don't pulverise them!
In a bowl, melt the cook's chocolate in the microwave on high for 1 minute at a time until completely melted.
If you don't have a microwave, melt the chocolate in a bowl fitted over a saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the simmering water.
Spoon a 5mm layer of melted chocolate into the tin/container. Sprinkle on the cranberries, nuts and squares of almond chocolate then cover with the remaining melted chocolate. Keep in a cool place to set, then chop into bite-sized squares with a sharp knife.
You can add anything you like to this 'chocolate sandwich' - experiment with white chocolate or other dried fruits.
Saturday, 20 December 2008
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
My very dear friends Kristi and Paul have moved in around the corner from us. To celebrate, I'm cooking them a quick and easy soup - and would be quite happy to do so every night if meant cooking on their amazing stove!
What you need
4 sweet potatoes
A handful of small brown or green lentils
A fistful of Coriander
1 brown onion chopped
Half a pack of feta, crumbled
1 stock cube or 1 tablespoon of bouillon
A hand-held blender, or food processor
Put the kettle on.
In a big pot, sweat the onions in a glug of olive oil. Add the lentils and sweet potato.
Fry for a few minutes then add boiled water until the sweet potato is just covered. Add stock. Slow boil with lid off until sweet potato and lentils are soft. Take off the heat and very carefully blitz with the hand-held blender until smooth adding milk or soy milk to get it to your preferred consistency. Put back on the stove for a few more minutes then serve in bowls. Garnish with copious amounts of feta and coriander.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
The week leading up to a holiday has an element of that blissful feeling you get after you've just quit your job. I've been going through the motions with a big grin on my face knowing that in a few days time I'll be I'm a climate warm enough to apply copious amounts of sunscreen.
Tonight Kelly - Rocky's favourite aunt - is coming over for a feed, I'm going to use up the remaining veg in the fridge so it doesn't die a slow death in my absence. It's been a busy week and there is quite a lot left so I'm going to make two - that way we can have one for tonight and the other for later.
You can use any combination of vegetables for this pie - butternut squash, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, spinach, cauliflower, celery, courgettes, carrots, sprouting broccoli, aubergine or mushrooms (pan fry with some garlic first)
Going on holiday/clearing out the fridge pie
What you need
An assortment of veg. I used:
5 small heads of broccoli, cut into small florets
Half a handful of runner beans, chopped
2 small handfuls of green beans, chopped
1 butternut squash, cubed
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Gluten free flour
For the mash
6 big potatoes
One small tub, or 3 big tablespoons of goat's yoghurt
Boil potatoes until soft then set aside.
Get the steamer going and throw the veg in starting with the ones that take longest to cook. I started with the carrots, then a few minutes later added the pumpkin, then 3-5 minutes later the broccoli then the beans.
Omce the veg is all lightly steamed, separate into two baking dishes and spread out evenly.
Make a White sauce; melt about 40g butter in a medium saucepan then add a few tablespoons of flour and half a teaspoon of cumin - gently blend together over a low heat, do not brown.
When throughly combined, slowly add rice milk stirring with a whisk until it's a saucy consistency. Add the mustard and salt and pepper to taste. If it's too runny add a little more flour or reduce for a little while longer. Remove from heat.
Ladle the sauce onto the veg so it is well coated.
Drain the potatoes and mash with olive oil or butter, chives and goat's yogurt
Add salt and pepper to taste
Spread mash over the veg with a fork, roughing it up so it looks like the Himalayas.
Bake at 180-200c until it is heated through then finish it off under a scorching grill so the peaks go deliciously brown and crispy.
Now you can get started on your packing...
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
A few weeks ago we celebrated Lily's birthday in a most excellent pub in Hackney.
Before heading out, I was overcome with the sudden urge to bake, which I'm sure has absolutely nothing to do with being pregnant.
So here is Lily's birthday cake - Nigel Slater's ginger cake with a block of Green and Blacks dark chocolate melted on top.
Thursday, 23 October 2008
During one of our Sunday eat-a-thons Lily and I decided to pop into the massive Indian supermarket on Brick lane and pick up a few bits and bobs.
Then we came across this vegetable which has the appearance of a snow pea but 10 times the size.
What is it? And how do you cook it?
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
I've been following this pregnancy diet my friend told me about (thanks
Ellen!), called the Gentle Birth Method - it means going without wheat, sugar, dairy
(with the exception of goat products) and tomato for your whole
pregnancy, in order to avoid a long labour to a monster-sized baby.
So far the no wheat thing has worked well for me, it's eliminated the nausea
and headaches and now I don't feel like napping all the time. YEAH!
The only challenge is finding stuff to chow down on – which isn't so bad after
you get your head around it. Eating out on the other hand is a bit trickier.
Here's an easy one to get started on. It's a great lunch or after work
snack. So simple, yet so delicious.
What you need
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Tofutti soy cream cheese spread or pasteurised goat's cheese*
Salt and pepper
(*TAKE HEED!! Not all goat's cheese is safe for pregnant consumption. Avoid
ones that are unpasturised and that have a rind. I used one from the goat's
cheese stall at Islington farmers market)
Friday, 3 October 2008
Just as I was congratulating myself for escaping morning sickness altogether, I was whisked off A&E for Hyperemesis (extreme vomiting) which was triggered off by an infection.
After that I found my appetite was half the man it used to be, I was too tired to cook and it gave me a horrible headache anyway - hence the reason for the posting drought.
The first few months being up the duff can be a bit tricky food wise. Here are a few tips if you find eating a chore:
* When you can't eat or drink without feeling sick try sipping ginger beverages like ginger beer, ale or cordial
* Don't stress too much about being healthy yet, the main thing is to get something down and keep it down. Remember - the baby is effectively a parasite at this stage and knows how to get what it needs from you
* Build your appetite up slowly. I lived on Mini Cheddars (Country Cheese crackers for the Australians out there) for a couple of days, then graduated to grilled cheese and tomato on Sainsbury's cheese and black pepper english muffins, then to pizza, then a whole veggie burger. I don't usually eat this sort of stuff but it was the only thing I could bear to stomach!
* Miso soup sachets are great for a quick fix - all you have to do is boil the kettle, no cooking involved. Go for the ones a the health food shop - they don't have all the E numbers and MSG
* Congee (recipe here) is fantastic for when you are feeling poorly and it's super easy to prepare
* Always keep a stash of food in your desk drawer at work. Fruit, nuts, muesli bars (Dorset muesli bars are my favourite) dig in when you are feeling queasy - eating small amounts throughout the day helped me keep nausea at bay
* Drink lots and lots of water to flush out toxins and keep things regular
If my experience is anything to go by, your appetite will be back to normal before you know it!
Sunday, 21 September 2008
Saturday, 6 September 2008
Part of Carter's birthday present this year was a guided mushroom foray in Hampstead Heath. Thankfully it was one of those rare days this summer where it wasn't raining which made it all the more enjoyable.
We rocked up at the meeting spot where our guide mushroom expert Andy Overall gave us a crash course on mushroom spotting that covered the different mushroom families, the toxic ones and most importantly, the edible ones.
Being early in the season, we came across more used condoms than mushrooms (I wonder if this is the exact spot where George Michael was busted cruising?) but it was incredibly relaxing strolling through the woods with nothing on my mind other than seeking out little mycological treasures. It was like chilled-out easter egg hunt for adults.
We became very familiar with the inedible Earthball that was in abundance, looks like a mini puffball but has the aromatic qualities of the inside of a brand new Tupperware container. It was quite a thrill to find a mushroom you could actually eat - our best finds were the Hare's Ears that Carters found in the bushes...
and these Amethyst Deceivers...
By late morning our little basket was filled with oyster mushrooms, hare's ears and boletus. They were mostly found by other peeps in our group who were kind enough to share with us, this dude below really hit the motherload and the end of the walk when he discovered all these chicken of the woods mushrooms hanging out at the base of a massive tree.
The next morning, I gave the mushrooms a quick rinse (I know you're not supposed to...but I couldn't help thinking about George Michael) pan-fried them with lots of salt and pepper and enjoyed them on toast. They were absolutely amazing - you could taste the different flavours of each mushroom and differentiate the textures. The hare's ears were crunchy, the Boletus has a sweet flavour and the chicken of the woods had a, well, chicken-like texture with an ancient woody earthy taste.
We are now officially obsessed with all things mushroom. They are free, fun to pick and delicious but you gotta know your shit.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Monday, 25 August 2008
The words 'best falafel' will always get my attention. Everyone knows there's a lot of terrible falafel out there in the big bad world - dark brown discs of any texture ranging from deep fried sawdust to rubber. I'll never forget the pride in the voice of one kebab shop owner as he asked me how I liked his falafel. I couldn't bring myself to tell him it looked and tasted like a wet sock left for a week in a plastic bag.
My love affair with this humble chickpea patty began when I was in university. The local strip housed a Falafel Kitchen, which pretty much kept me well fed for my entire uni life. Sometimes they would stand on the street handing out falafel balls on a tray to entice customers into their store. I would always devise a way to walk back and forth several times for another little snack.
Fast forward to The Big Apple, where Moustache in Greenwich Village, has a reputation for serving the city's best falafel. They're part of the Slow Food movement too, so you know they're putting thought into what they do.
Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with distinct, identifiable flavours, served with pillow-soft pitta bread and fresh salad; what you get at Moustache is exactly what every falafel in the world dreams of being. The best in New York? I'd need to do more research to be sure. But the best I've ever tasted? Definitely. Don't miss the chance to try it if you're in the area.
Get the table in the window and, if you're very lucky, you'll get a little episode of New York life. While we were there, a fire truck turned up to quench a fierce flood from the apartments above. Hot falafel, fresh mint tea, and brawny men with axes. What more could you want?
Monday, 11 August 2008
Prices are rising and so stopwasting food! Let's beat the credit crunch and use up crap left behind in your cupboards by past visitors (in my case two of the same box of cereal, Alpen muesli, in the red box. But any old oat based breakfast cereal would do nicely. I think better than the traditional plain oats because of all those extra little bits)add any other fruit or chocolate (which I think would taste gross) to this recipe to really use up what is festering in the back of your cupboards
What you need
80gm brown sugar
2 tbs. golden syrup
250gm left over cereal (or oats)
1 tsp. ground ginger
1.5 bananas thoroughly mashed
1 lemon (rind removed)
10 small cubes crystalised ginger chopped finely
1. Heat oven to 220
2. Melt sugar, butter and syrup over low heat
3. Add mashed banana, cystalised ginger and lemon rind to butter mixture
4. Fold in cereal, salt and ground ginger
5. Pour into lined tin
6. Bake for 25mins
7. Meanwhile make a syrup from the juice of the lemon and equal part sugar over a low heat (until sugar has dissolved)
8. Pour syrup over just cooked flapjack, score into pieces and leave to cool in the tin for 2 hours
Wow, this feels a little like those movies where the city family heads to the beach for an epic summer that changes their whole lives and when they return home to remove the dust covers a symbolic montage explains that, though nothing appears different, nothing will ever be the same again. It's been a good couple of months since I last posted (I'm sorry Chew!)... tumbleweed indeed.
I moved house in June and I've been sniffing suspiciously round my new kitchen ever since, not particularly inspired to develop a relationship with it. I could search for a deep psychological explanation but, really, I think it's because the oven is shit. That said, I am now slowly getting a cooking groove back on, mainly thanks to two foxes who've taken up residence in my back garden. I can see them frolic and play from my kitchen window and their excited yapping and tail shaking is a beautiful thing (even if they drag all kinds of crap into my yard).
Getting back on the horse with something simple -- and in need of uber nourishment after an epic 40 kilometre mountain climb -- I opted for a big plate of marinated mushrooms and boozy Puy lentils. I wanted a big bang of flavour in the lentils, so cooked them down in a miso sachet stock and big cup of water, sharpened with generous splashes of white wine, vodka and Pimm's No. 1. A good forty minutes simmer time saw them reduce into a thick, salty stew, the ideal companion to some stir fried mushrooms (marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, sesame, balsamic and a splash of soy), brown rice, toasted seeds and ribbons of flash fried egg. Looks dirty, tastes foxy.
A little shocked to hear about Isaac Hayes giving it up on a treadmill on the weekend. He looked well fit -- and performed beautifully -- when I snapped these pix at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2005. Hayes and Porter, the great Stax team.
Saturday, 2 August 2008
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery
137 East Houston Street
Between 1st & 2nd
When in the lower east side, you must stop in at this knishery - and make sure you are starving, these puppies are not for the faint hearted.
Go for the vegetable or mushroom knish and a Matzo ball soup on the side and observe the interesting clientele, from cops picking up boxloads of knishes to skateboarder kidlets...all while the knish chef catches some zs in a chair at the back of the room.
Saturday, 12 July 2008
Today I ventured out onto the balcony to water the plants. I haven't needed to do this for quite some time because it has been raining non-stop (it is supposed to be summer now, right?).
I was shocked to find that the peas I planted months ago had grown at a rate that would put Jack's beanstalk to shame. At least all that rain is good for something.
My little baby peas aren't ready to eat yet, but I grabbed these beauties from the market last week. De-pod them, throw them into some boiling water for a few minutes, drain, toss with a bit of butter and some freshly chopped mint.
These are a million times better than the frozen variety so get 'em while the getting's good. When picking your peas, the pod shouldn't be dull and they should feel 'squeaky' when you pick up a handful.
They are great with almost anything as a side (try Lily's Stilton mushrooms).
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
On our way to breakfast, we stop at an international newsagents to grab an English paper only to discover that Bojo is the new Mayor of London. I haven't been this disappointed since John Howard was voted in again in 2004.
Thankfully the friendly folks at B&H Dairy - a tiny vegetarian AND kosher diner in the East village - have an entire menu of comfort food for us to bury our sorrows in.
The stack of french toast made from Challah bread is so gigantic that any memory of Boris is forgotten as soon as it lands in front of me. As always the home fries are a winner, while the spinach blintzes are cooked to perfection with the obligatory bucket of sour cream on the side.
Make sure you get a seat on the counter and watch the staff banter while they work the grill and ladle out hot bowls of mushroom barley and matzo ball soup.
Monday, 23 June 2008
Today I'm particularly excited because we are escaping to Alcatraz.
On the way we stop for a quick breakfast at a chain called Boudin. I order a veggie scramble cob thing and it is fantastic. Carters has an equally impressive salad sandwich with choice ingredients like avocado and semi-dried tomatoes on yummy rye bread.
Seeing the tunnel that was used in the famous escape was really cool and I also liked the industrial sized kitchen where they had a knife cabinet with silhouettes painted so you could tell straight away if a knife was missing. The dining room had sprinkler type fittings overhead, so in the event of any trouble, everyone in the room would be gassed!
Saturday, 21 June 2008
In the tabloid headlines, you will often see the words 'asylum seeker' and 'refugee' coupled with 'terror' and any other negative connotation you can think of. It's easy to forget that these are people from all walks of life who have travelled huge distances to escape persecution and to seek asylum.
Asylum seekers give up everything they have to escape atrocities that most of us can't imagine. What I find impossible to comprehend is how they are treated when they arrive in the UK.
So here's the asylum seeker challenge:
1 You are given £35 in vouchers every week for food and toiletries
2 These are ASDA vouchers, so you must first walk to your nearest ASDA
3 You must spend your £35 allowance in one go
4 When you present your voucher at the checkout counter you may be regarded as scum
5 You will not receive change
6 You walk back to where you are staying because ASDA vouchers won't cover your bus fare
Repeat for up to two years while the Home Office makes a decision on your case. During this time you are not permitted to work.
The Migrants Resource Centre puts out an annual newspaper called The New Londoners to counteract the negative connotations associated with asylum seekers and refugees in the media.
Download it here
And in case you missed it...read this excellent piece by Mark Haddon in last Sunday's Observer Magazine here
Yes - it all sounds very worthy/serious/boring, but there are some amazing highly-skilled people amongst us who are being forced to live like vagrants because of government policy and it's time we got clued up on it and stop pretending like it's not happening.
Thursday, 12 June 2008
The search for a vegetarian fine-dining establishment is sometimes likened to the search for a sweet-smelling Frenchman. Oftentimes, your restaurant experience involves you and your companion ordering the only vegetarian starter, then one of you getting the interesting main - usually a tart or something made with glassy filo - while the other settles for the token risotto or pasta dish.
If you're very unlucky (or in Paris) then you have to ask the kitchen if they can whip something up. At which point the waiter might come back and say that they can make one of the salads without the meat, or they may bring you stinging nettles and a sock full of bread.
So, in my experience, it's pretty rare to find a vegetarian restaurant that gets it perfect.
Greens, in San Francisco, is the best vegetarian restaurant on earth. Possibly. We wanted to order everything on the menu. My starter was a fresh spring roll (with carrots, jicama, green papaya, rice noodles) with grilled shitake mushrooms and tofu and peanut sauce. My main was equally delicious - a butternut squash gratin with grilled onions, poblano chilies, cheddar and fromage blanc custard ; served with grilled polenta, green gulch rainbow chard and beet greens with pumpkin seeds. It all tasted as good as it sounds.
And the view was perfect. Hold out for a window seat, and time your visit for sundown. The light glinting off the marina waters is the perfect backdrop for a celestial dining experience. And the wine list. And the service. It's as if someone somewhere finally got the idea that maybe vegetarianism isn't about self-flagellation after all.
Yes. It has been SEVERAL momentous weeks in the world of Chew.
I'm so far behind with my posts that I may need to hire a time machine to remember what on Earth I ate three months ago. And speaking of going back in time, during wedding week my dad bought over a few of my personal effects from Melbourne and this photo was amongst them. I guess some things never change...
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Not only is our beautiful young Chew a year older this week, she is GETTING MARRIED ON SATURDAY! No wonder the woman looks startled. (Kudos to her wonderful man, Carters, for the flat stanley marble birthday cake.)
Thursday, 22 May 2008
Ages ago I had a thing about reviving wartime food, but then I nosed around and it all looked so shit I gave up. Now, the most amazing thing has arrived on the iPlayer - a show about wartime food that is actually brilliant TV.
The Supersizers Go...
Taking the Supersize approach to a week living on wartime rations, the key players are:
1. Sue Perkins - In my mind's eye, every Radio 4 announcer is a greying academic. How amazing - one of the greatest wits of the station is but a bounding, young whippet!
2. Giles Coren - Great food writer, looks pretty damn natty with the Brylcreem and a 3 piece.
3. Allegra McEvedy - A Leon originator and champion of seasonal cooking, her style is cool and she bakes a mean hash fudge. Here, she is commanding.
Dammit, this is the smartest food show I've ever seen. It's a must.
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
10 of us took a minivan to ATP on the weekend. We stopped at Tesco on the way and bought a fair whack of groceries; salad, eggs, pasta, veg, fancy cheese etc etc. Our plan was to cook at least four meals over the course of three days. I don't know what the fuck we were thinking. Our shop would have been far more productive if we split the cash on beer, pear cider, Pimms, vodka, rum, mixers, tobacco, papers, filters and Anadin Extra.
Today, still shagged but absolutely blasted full of good time vibes, I came home from work to a lot of eggs and a hankering for the tortilla. I am no tortilla expert by any stretch and I really am too buggered to spell out the shizzle but all I can say is go for the long, slow cook and I think the experts favour a small deep pan rather than the wide shallow one I have at my disposal.
All you need to do is skin and parboil some taters then cool and grate them. Soften some sliced Spanish onions and garlic with chilli flakes, stock and wine. Mix them with the grated tates, some chopped parsley and salt'n'peppa. Then beat the lot with four eggs (for 2) until it's all frothy. Pour into a med-heat pan. Let it cook slowly till the arse is tanned then pop it under a fan forced grill to brown the top. Serve with fresh coriander. Done darlin.